West Virginia might be proof that vaccine “lotteries” in the U.S. have gone too far
As vaccine rates in the U.S. have slowed from their April peak, states are getting creative with ways to incentivize their citizens to get shots — pushing the nation ever closer to President Joe Biden’s goal to have 70 percent of U.S. adults inoculated by the 4th of July. States have offered cash prizes, scholarships, free food and beers — but West Virginia may have just cemented its place as the most American state in America by offering its vaccinated citizens a chance to win a free gun.
Gov. Jim Justice announced the vaccine lottery on Tuesday. Prizes include five custom hunting rifles and five custom hunting shotguns, as well as two brand new trucks, five lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, and vacations to West Virginia’s state parks. There is one grand prize of $1.588 million cash, and two people under age 25 will win college scholarships. For teens who get vaccinated, the state is offering the chance to win savings bonds and $100 gift cards. Any West Virginian who receives a first dose will be eligible for the drawings, which will run from June 20 to August 4.
West Virginia is giving its vaccine incentive program a boost.
All vaccinated residents will be entered for a chance to win a college scholarship, a truck, or hunting rifles — in addition to a $1.588 million grand prize.https://t.co/1Fsv6Ik37h
— NPR (@NPR) June 2, 2021
“The faster we get people across the finish line the more lives we save. That’s all there is to it,” Justice said when announcing the vaccine incentives. “If the tab just keeps running the cost is enormous. The hospitalizations are enormous. We have to get all of our folks across the finish line.”
So far, 51.5 percent of West Virginia’s population has gotten at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.
The U.S. has drawn ridicule from around the world for needing to offer people these kinds of incentives to get vaccinated against a deadly disease that has killed millions of people around the world. It’s also pretty embarrassing when you consider poorer countries, where the death toll is climbing because residents have no access to vaccines — compare that to the U.S., where we have more than enough doses stockpiled to vaccinate every citizen, and have to offer people guns to convince them to take their shots.
But the numbers so far have shown that these kinds of incentives are working. Vaccine rates in Ohio increased after the governor there announced a $1 million lottery for vaccinated citizens, one of the first of its kind in the U.S. As embarrassing as it may be, if this is what it takes to reach herd immunity, well, give the people what they want: Guns, apparently.